On Thursday, the Gujarat High Court, in response to public interest litigation (PIL), issued a notice to Deputy Speaker of Gujarat State Assembly Jethabhai Bharwad, additional chief secretary of the forest department, and others over illegal construction on encroached forest land in Chandangadh reserved forest area.
The notice came after a PIL was filed by Congress leaders Jasvantsinh Solanki and Dushyantsinh Chauhan, highlighting the encroachment and construction.
The PIL highlighted that BJP MLA Ahir, through his Aaeeshree Khodiyar Seva Trust in Chandangadh, has been constructing a residential structure, part of which he uses as an office.
The PIL added that the forest officials remained a mute spectator of such a severe violation by an elected representative. Hence, the Gujarat State Forest Development Corporation Ltd, Panchmahal district collector and deputy conservator of the forest of Godhra division were also issued notice.
As per Indian Forest Act, 1927, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, no non-forest activity, including the construction of any nature by a private person, is permissible. However, Ahir and his trust justified the action under the guise of the structure being used for Chandangadh Khodiyar Temple-related activities.
The petitioners have also submitted a video clip of the construction as proof.
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